Sunday, April 24, 2016

My Support Crew

This medal was not just earned by me. Credit also goes to my family. Because without their time, their support, and their encouragement it would not be possible. 
I definitely could not have done it without my husband, my supporter, my Sherpa! Despite not understanding my desire to endure all that I do to get to a finish line he never tells me to quit. Even when there are times I am sure he thinks it would be the smart thing to do. He thinks  I am a little bit crazy and he's probably a little bit right. But he supports my crazy. And for pre race activities and race day he was the best Sherpa around! Sherpa duties are no joke! There are social obligations, carrying equipment, dealing with my roller coaster emotions, getting me from spot to spot, forking out the big bucks, so much time and sacrifice, and let's not forget spectating because that is a sport in itself! And he was there 110%! And I love him even more for it!

My boys are my biggest cheerleaders!! When I got hurt days before the race they were devastated. They didn't know until they woke up in the morning. And when they saw me all four of them were in tears. Not just because their mommy was hurt but because they knew my race was days away. They were heartbroken for me. And it meant the world to me that they understood how hard I had worked for this and how badly I wanted it. So when it came to race day and I could see how proud they were of me for getting out there it was all worth it!

My mom and dad have always supported me thru everything no questions asked. They are always there at my finish lines with tears in their eyes and pride in their hearts! I couldn't ask for more! And yet that's what they give....more!! They both help me so much with my training. My mom helps juggle weekend activities so I can get some of my long training done. She is always there to make things easier for all of us no matter how much it inconveniences her. She does it without hesitation and without question. And my dad has been a superstar! He takes Emerson 1-2 days a week for me for either long runs/rides or doctors appointments. And there is honestly no way I would get my training done without him! He is a lifesaver. And Emerson looks so forward to getting to babysit his Pappy! They love their time together!!
And then there is my coach, Gena Alvarez!! Without her guidance and training I would not have been able to accomplish what I did. Not only was I well prepared for this race, but my training was strong enough that I could even race injured. And she was with me every step of the way! She and her husband Greg even went above and beyond spending time with me in the ER while I was hysterical. And I only say hysterical because there is no other word to truly describe how I was that night when I thought my dreams were dashed. But she never let me give up even when I thought it was hopeless! And I love her for that!! 

So I owe my medal to these 8 people!! 

Friday, April 22, 2016

Post Race Blues

"Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes.......including you." Anne Lamott

I just achieved something I worked so very hard for. It was one of the best days of my life. I was on cloud nine. And for the first few days after I was living on adrenaline. I was on a high. I felt unbeatable. And then......

**Warning: This post has some negativity in it. I am one who likes to focus on the positive, but I wanted to be true to myself so when I read this later I remember what I went thru and I wanted to be true to others who may be experiencing the same thing.**

Post race blues. It is a thing. I had heard about it but had never experienced anything like it. My body is getting the rest it so desperately needs so I can recover from my bike fall and the demands that racing injured put on my body. But going from intense training to not training has left me with a serious void. 

I find myself being sensitive and extra emotional. I tear up unexpectedly, especially if looking at pictures or videos from race day. I am exhausted. I am not eating or drinking as well as I should. 

My hip and knee hurt too much to run. I am sick with Bronchitis and Pleurisy to which I am wondering if illness is also a part of post race blues. It makes sense that your immune system would be weakened after a long duration of intense working out. And to top it all off I am having a flare with my Rheumatoid Arthritis. I feel like my body is in attack mode and I am the enemy. I know it is my bodies way of screaming at me to rest. I need to listen. 

I have another race on the docket. I am signed up for the CB&I sprint tri on April 30th. This was my first triathlon last year and I was really looking forward to seeing how far I have come. Not sure how much progress I will see since two weeks post IM 70.3 Texas I have only done a painful 1 mile run, a 1 hour cough fest on the bike trainer and a measly, painful 10 mile ride outdoors. I may have to make a difficult choice.

It is tough watching my friends who did Ironman 70.3 Texas with me jump right back out there and race the next weekend and the weekend after that. But I need to remember that my body has allowed me to do amazing things! I am injured. I raced 70.3 miles injured. I have RA and some days I can't get out of bed. And I raced 70.3 miles!!

My body may not be as strong as I wish it would be, but that is my battle and I will keep fighting it.

How do you deal with post race blues?!?

Monday, April 18, 2016

Ironman 70.3 Texas Finish

I am a finisher! There are so many things I learned about myself on this journey. And I still have so far to go. There were challenges along the way and there will surely be more to come. But I did it. I crossed that line. I earned that medal.
Going down the finisher chute is indescribable. I was hurting, as you can see, but I wanted to look strong. The tears were unstoppable. Every race I have ever done  I have always finished strong. No matter what. This one I just finished. I didn't sprint in. I just took it all in. It is a moment I wish I could live over and over again.

The crowd support along the course was amazing! And it was so fun to know so many people out there racing! I had teammates out there from Zoot, Strike Force Racing, and TriTats. I had IG friends out on the course and as spectators. I even ran across a friend from high school out there. It was a blast having all the support and cheers from so many people! It was the most fun I have ever had on a race!

There is so much room for growth in all three of these disciplines. So many things I could do differently or improve upon. I wasn't 100% for the race. There are all kinds of what ifs. But none of that matters. It was my day. It was my race. And I won it!!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Ironman 70.3 Texas Run

Out of all my pictures this is the only one that I am not wearing a huge smile on my face! I love all my pics because they really show what a good time I was having and how happy I was to be there! This one shows I had to work for it.
Going into this race after falling on the bike all I kept thinking was if I make it to the run I am golden. I am a runner after all. My coach and the doctor had both told me to try out all three disciplines post crash to make sure I felt ok. I was so worried about my elbow I totally ignored my hip. It was bruised and all black and blue but I never considered it as something that could hold me back. So I swam and I biked and I determined though painful I was going to try to race. And during the race it hurt. By time I got to the run my elbow was hurting pretty good but I was to the run so I was golden right?!?! Well that first lap my hip and knee were hurting and I thought I just needed to shake it out. By the second lap it was clear that wasn't going to happen so I was just going to push thru the pain. It was so hot out there and no shade on the course. And I was needing to make up for some lack of hydrating well on the bike. So I made a deal that if I ran I would allow myself to walk thru the aid stations. I had to stop and wait in line for a port a potty too ugh. But at least I was hydrated so that was a good sign. By time I got to that third lap the shooting pain from my hip to my knee was taking my breath away. But I was still so happy because there was no doubt I was going to cross that finish line. So I had a blast thru the entire race until those last two miles. I was trying to hold my hip up as I ran to alleviate the pain shooting into my knee upon impact. But I was not going to walk. Nothing was going to stop me!

And this picture says it all!! You might not know it but I am crying and smiling. I am excited and relieved. I am overjoyed and exhausted. I am going finish!!!! I have a list of reasons why I almost didn't get to do this race. I have a lot of excuses I could have used not to get out there and try. But I am a fighter. And I fought hard for this!

What is usually by far my best discipline ended up being the most challenging. While my pace was not where I had imagined it would be, it still moved me up 26 ranks in my age group. 

Ironman 70.3 Texas Bike

"Success isn't defined by those who fought and never fell, but by those who fought, fell, and then rose again." - Nastia Luikin

"Get. Back. Up. You are going to have falls whether mental, physical, metaphorical, or literal. If you want it, fight for it. Never. Give. Up." - me 😜

Photo Credit for above photo goes to Scott Flathouse. He is not just a photographer but an artist and a genius! Heck to make me look that good on the bike he's a freaking magician! 

Ah my old nemesis the bike how you have hurt me and attempted to steal my confidence. I won and I will keep on winning. I got out there and had the best ride I have ever had! I mounted without a hitch and started off taking it easy. The winds were challenging going out. There was what looked like a bike accident and part of the course had to go around the ambulance and fire truck. I was anxious going around it. But at the same time one of my Strike Force Teammates, Luke, passed by with words of encouragement. So I got around it and just kept heading out against the wind. I wasn't pushing hard. I was just playing it safe. I was mostly worried about making the turnaround at the midpoint because it was two sharp left turns without a lot of room. But when I got there and I did it, I screamed out in joy like a crazy woman! This gave me a burst of confidence and I really enjoyed the ride after that! 28 more miles to go and I ran out of fluids. But I did not want to risk stopping to refill. I knew I would pay the price for that on the run.

The rest of the ride was just about perfect!! I had some crosswinds that shook me a few times but it was much better than the wind going out. I kept getting choked up thinking I was going to do this!! But I also knew anything could happen and things could change in an instant.
When I dismounted I burst into tears of relief and pride for making it! I never got in aero, I never changed gears, I never refilled my fluids (😁), my elbow, wrist, and hand hurt, but I DID NOT FALL!! I did not give up!!

Ironman 70.3 Texas Swim

I didn't sleep much at all the night before, and when I did I had dreams my alarm didn't go off, I didn't get the hotel wake up call, I was running slowly thru thick sand to get to transition to set up, transition closed before I got there, etc... Since I was awake getting up wasn't too hard. I had to force myself to eat a bowl of oatmeal. Despite my dreams that prevented me from getting to transition I had no problems getting there. I set up and I was ready. Except I wasn't. I was teary and shaky. A million questions were going thru my mind. What am I doing here? Why am I doing this? What am I trying to prove? I am not even good at this! What if I get hurt? What if I fall? What if I fail?!?!
I was waiting for my family to show up for  one last hug and kiss before heading to the swim start. They are my rock, my motivation, my inspiration and I wouldn't be here without them!
When I got to the dock with my swim wave and got ready to jump in, an overwhelming sense of peace and calm washed over me. I don't know how or why but the only explanation I can come up with to explain it is a little help from the man upstairs and for that I am so grateful! When I jumped off that dock I had no fear.

I was so happy getting out of the swim! And I was so excited to catch a glimpse of my family as I exited the water!!

The swim was my favorite part! I never would have guessed but I loved it!! I did lose time waiting for everyone to go ahead before I started so I lowered the risk of hurting my elbow. And then with the young fierce guys they started after my AG I had to deal with some really aggressive swimmers. But despite that I had no anxiety. I felt calm and strong from start to finish. I came out confident and excited! This was exactly what I needed to get on the bike! 

This was my fastest and strongest swim yet! My pace was 2:40/100 yards. As good as I felt out there I expected it to be a little faster. I am sure giving everyone a big head start hurt my time. But I loved it and that I will take any day!!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Pre Race Fun

It was a lot of fun getting everything laid out for race day. Racing was beginning to feel like a real possibility.
Saturday morning we woke up early. The kids went to my parents house to head down to Galveston later. Rick and I left around 8:00 am to head to the island. 

After checking into our hotel we went to check out Ironman Village. The excitement in the air was electric. I have to be honest I was feeling a bit out of my league. I went thru check in. Everywhere we went people spoke to Rick as if he was the one racing. When I went to the t-shirt table in check in she looked past me and said um the men's t-shirts are that way. Lol! People talked to Rick about my bike. Everyone asked him all about his racing. Ha! It is definitely a male dominated sport but to assume each time it was Rick racing and not me was surprising to me.

Team Zoot met at The Spot for lunch.  What a great group of amazing athletes! And how exciting to be among them!

Then we headed back for bike check in. This is the real deal!! I racked my bike and just prayed I would make it thru the race ok. I was super worried about mounting, the turnaround, and dismounting. I was worried about the wind. I was worried about nutrition and hydration. I was worried how much pain I would be in and hoped that I could tolerate it! But I was excited! I was eager to try!

After bike check in the Tritats team met up! I feel like I have known these guys forever!! Such a fun group!! I know I have established friendships that will last a lifetime!

Rick and I headed to the place we love the most! The beach! We walked along the beach hand in hand and enjoying taking some down time away from the excitement to just enjoy each other. He has been so supportive and sacrificed a lot for me thru this process. And I was super impressed with his Sherpa skills! He went above and beyond my expectations!

Then we met the Strike Force Racing Team for dinner! Without my coach and her husband I could have never made it this far! And my team mates are a source of constant encouragement and support for me!

I was wiped out! It was a crazy, busy, exciting, fun day!! We went back to the room and I prepared for the next day! I got my TriTats on! I was ready!!

Not much for sleep came that night! And when it did I dreamt of oversleeping, not being able to find my way to transition or to the start, of a million little things going wrong......But I got up on time and got ready to go!!!! I was going to do this!!!

Rolling With The Punches

If there is one thing you will learn very quickly in this sport it is that there is so much beyond your control. No matter what you do, the time you dedicate, the hard work you put in, there are a million things that can derail your plans and you may have little to no control over them. What you do have control over is how you handle what is thrown your way. Do you let it get you down or do you rise up to the challenge?

The Monday evening before the race a few of us were meeting at coaches house for a meeting and transition practice. The meeting went well. It was very informative and I was feeling well prepared for race day. We set up our transition areas to rehearse for race day. I saw the person in front of me had to cut it really tight to turn around, so I thought I would play it safe. I dismounted walked my bike around the turn and hopped back on. Better safe than sorry right?!? I didn't want to take any chances this close to race day. I started to get going and clip back in and straight down to the ground I went. I landed hard on my hip and elbow and my head hit the concrete. Thank goodness for a helmet! Which is why no matter the distance I am always wearing one! Instantly I was nauseous. The pain in my elbow was severe. Right away I thought this is not good. I sat out and watched the rest of transition practices. And the pain was getting worse. As I got in the car and tried to pull away l struggled to back the car out of the driveway. So my coach decided to take me to the ER with her husband following us. 

There was no wait at the emergency room and I went right back and then right in to xray. I told the tech I had a race in less than a week and he said "I don't think so." X-rays were excruciating. My mom and dad showed up. The doctor walked in and said "It's fractured." And I fell apart. My coach asked if the X-rays showed the break. The doctor said no but that she and the radiologist agreed from the joint effusion seen on the xray that it was definitely a fracture and that if I had a cat scan she guaranteed it would show the break. I was pretty much hysterical. And the doctor said really annoying things like there are always more races and here's where you decide if your glass of lemonade is half full or empty....I wanted to smack her. Lol! Her approach was not the best by far, but I'm sure she was doing her best to make me feel better. They splinted my arm in a soft cast and put me in a sling. They gave me pain meds and sent me home. It was over. All my hard work. All the blood, sweat, and tears I had literally spilled over the last 7 months was for nothing. I cried. I sobbed. I'm not going to lie, I was full of self pity. That night I cried the entire night.  The next day I was still crying. I got an orthopedist appontment for 4:00 that afternoon. I assumed it was over and I was just going in for a cast.
The doctor took one look at the X-rays I brought from the ER and he said they looked great! I was like "What?!?! Is there a chance I can race?" He said there was a chance. He took more X-rays. And it hurt so much I saw stars and almost fainted. I thought there goes any hope! But the doctor came in and said there is no break! He said the pain was likely from the swelling putting pressure on the ulna nerve and bruising. He said to come back in two days and we'll see where we are. I left in pain but with a tiny glimmer of hope!!

Two days later I was still hurting but I was improving every day. The above picture was taken on Thursday three days after the fall. There was still quite a bit of swelling and pain. But the doctor said I could try to race! If I could tolerate it I could do it! I was ecstatic but I knew it could come down to a race day decision depending on the level of healing and degree of pain that would happen in the next three days. 

My hip was banged and bruised up as well. And I was sore everywhere at this point. But there was no way I was giving up!!

I went to a cryotherapy session and did the Normatec boots as well. I was willing to try anything!!

I decided no matter what I wanted to be there. I wanted to try. Even if I got a DNF I wanted to try. I couldn't give up now!